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Template tip: How to use the Scrum@Scale Heat Map

Tricia Whenham
Posted by Tricia Whenham on May 29, 2020 2:00:00 PM
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Do you need tools for scaling Scrum in your organization, even when everyone’s remote? Then we have two Scrum@Scale™ Heat Maps canvas templates for you – based on the original developed by Jeff Sutherland, the co-creator of Scrum and founder of Scrum Inc. and Scrum@Scale.

Scrum@Scale Heat Maps in Span™ Workspace allow you to gather insight from people across your organization using simple digital tools. They empower you to get an assessment from each person in your team or organization – no matter where each person is working.

By using one of these canvas templates and the Scrum@Scale Categories, you can quickly develop a big-picture view of the health of your agile organization and put the information into actionable areas that you can use to build your backlog.  A deeper dive to help your team members understand the components and the heat map are part of the Scrum@Scale Practitioner Course

Here’s how it works.

Getting prepared

Your first step when getting started is choosing the right canvas template. When you click to create a new canvas in Span Workspace, you’ll see two Scrum@Scale Heat Map options.

The first is optimized for use with individual devices. It’s ideal for a fully remote experience (the reality for most of us right now). But it also works great when everyone is using their own laptops or phones in a meeting room. This is the template we’ll focus on for the rest of this blog post.

The second version was developed for people working directly on a large touch display. You can also choose this version if you have some people working together on shared displays and some on their own devices.

Once you’ve chosen the right canvas template, go ahead and click New to create it. You can rename it as needed. Next, it’s time to invite participants to share their perspective on the health of your organization. If not everyone you’d like to invite has a Span Workspace subscription, no problem! You can invite unlimited guests to contribute to your canvas.

The template is set up for 10 participants. Need to include more people? Just scroll to the end of the canvas and duplicate an extra column or two to add room for everyone’s ideas.


Kicking off your session

When it’s time to start using this heat map, all participants can open the canvas from wherever they are. Like all Span Workspace canvases, every change can be seen in real time.

To begin, ask attendees to take a selfie for their column on the heat map. Just turn on QuickShare on the Selfies group by clicking the three-dot menu and then clicking the QS badge at the top of the canvas to display a QR code. Everyone can scan the code with a phone and then add a photo to the canvas. After that, participants (or the facilitator) can drag the pics over to the heat map column headers.

Next, kick off the session with a frank talk about agility in the organization. Ask every participant one question: Are you agile in name only?

Then have them sketch a pie chart that shows how they see it. They can break things down into three categories – red (not at all agile), green (definitely agile) and yellow (somewhere in between) – and show what percentage of the organization falls into each. Once the sketches have been complete, they can be dragged right under each person’s selfie in the heat map.

Auditing your organization

Now it’s time to dig deeper into how people feel about their organization by looking at 3 mega issues and 12 nodes – all part of the Scrum@Scale framework.

For each category on the heat map, participants choose a sticky note to duplicate and drag over. The notes range from green (great/no impediments) to red (major impediments/team totally blocked). Participants should also add a number showing the importance of the issue to their organization – from 1 (not very important) to 5 (super important).

The categories are comprehensive and intended to prompt a discussion of exactly where things are working well and where they need improvement. Here’s the basics of what each category includes – more details can be found in the Scrum@Scale Guide:


Do all teams have a well-ordered backlog and know exactly what they need to do?

Working Product

Is there a high-quality product released every sprint that provides significant value?

Organizational Refactoring

Are teams easily changed and optimized to address business needs?


Do you have an executive metascrum team that is dedicated to creating a company vision?


Does every team have a product owner and scrum master with a clear, ordered backlog?

Strategic Vision

Do you have a high-level vision set for the company and does each team know how it fits into it?

Backlog Prioritization

Do you meet regularly to review the backlog and reprioritize as the market demands?

Backlog Refinement

Do you meet regularly to map out and refine the backlog?

Release Planning

Do you have a clearly defined release plan that delivers value at a sustainable pace?


Do you have dedicated executives transforming the organization and eliminating impediments?

Continuous Improvement

Do you use daily scrum and retrospectives to iterate and improve?

Assess Deployment

Do you have a great system for getting products to customers?

Assess Feedback

Do you monitor data and adjust constantly to meet market demands?

Assess Metrics and Transparency

Are your backlogs transparent, with agreed upon metrics that every team can track?

Once people have added their perspectives, it’s easy to get a big picture view of where you sit as an organization. Lots of green and yellow means you’re on the right track. Orange and purple indicate impediments that need to be resolved.

The Scrum@Scale difference

Of course, this blog post just scratches the surface of how this heat map can help you transform your organization. And it’s just one tool you need when determining how to scale Scrum in your organization.

To get the full picture, visit the Scrum@Scale website. You’ll find the Scrum@Scale Guide, available for free download in 11 languages, plus information about webinars, virtual courses and more resources.

Interested in the other ways Span Workspace can support your agile teams? Take a look at our full range of agile canvas templates, plus check out more template options in the templates drawer.


Topics: Agile Span Workspace Scaling Agile